The Use of Voice in Online Language Learning and Teaching

This evening Michael Coghlan (TAFE – Australia) gave a very interesting voice conference presentation on Yahoo Messenger showing us the advantages of using this kind of tool in teaching. There were about 35 webheads present, listening, questioning online and also participating through text chat. Michael had previously prepared a PPT presentation which the participants downloaded beforehand… so we also had access to the main points visually.

At the beginning, the moderators asked all interested people who had expressed their wish to participate and were online to join by sending a join conference invitation. Then, they checked whether the voice volume and level were adequate. Michael’s voice was a bit too deep and there was a lot of ressonance and a slur at the end of the sentences when he seemed to be breathing more heavily. This was quickly corrected when Michael spoke more slowly and articulated better. Participants from many different locations (eg. Spain, Japan, Poland, USA, France…) also intervened and the sound quality was usually good and stable without interference.

I do not know why, my YM voice did not work…instead of voice, people reported hearing a lot of noise…:-( YM was working perfectly all right last Sunday during the Polish lesson with Agata and Babi. A glitch I must check out.

During the presentation, the chat text distracted me a bit and at certain moments, I felt more like interacting with other people than following attentively Michael’s presentation. I believe this comes from the fact that I had read the slides before, knew and understood what he was going to talk about…so I listened with one ear and occupied my hands with the keyboard. I apologize for my disruptive behaviour.

Renata called my attention in a side window saying I should chat on the side. However, I felt that chatting on the side disrupted even more because everytime a window popped there was an annoying accompaying sound that I suppose could be heard by everyone else logged in YM. This is something that does not happen in the Tapped In chat window. Just like in class, many people are multi-tasking…they can write and listen at the same time so when you have streaming audio, this allows you to have a parallel text chat without too much interference…when you only have text, these sidetracking comments can make your presentation a flop because all is in the same window.

Some good points came up in the text chat though:
– the obstacles raised by administration and the technical department when trying to implement new teaching ways which go against the established practice;
– the size of classes in secondary schools and reduced number of computers per student
– the need for alternative material in case technology fails you
– how to analyse, interpret and react to the disruptive behaviour of students in your classroom 🙂
– how to draw the line between school and home, your work hours and your privacy when you have a computer at home.

All in all, I feel this was a great presentation because Michael not only summarized in PPT but also illustrated in his chat the different views people have of the use of ICT.

The two greatest things about online technology are that you can find and bring the real thing ( be it video, sound or text) closer to your students.

At a higher level, social tools offer the stds the possibility to interact with a native speaker, expert or just another human being different from their teacher. This surely adds a new dimension to their learning, detaches them from the teacher and helps them to chart their own course.

The transcript of the session can be found HERE
And the sound file HERE

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